U.S. House of Representatives introduces NWC-supported bill to strengthen the MSPB

by Kait Pararas, Program Manager

Published on February 23, 2021

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U.S. House of Representatives introduces bill to strengthen the MSPB

The National Whistleblower Center is proud to support the Merit Systems Protection Board Empowerment Act, which was introduced today by Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) into the House of Representatives.

Currently, the MSPB has not had a quorum in over four years and has not had a single sitting member since Mark Robbins’ term expired in March 2019. The MSPB cannot make any decisions on cases without a quorum. Given this historic absence of members, there is an ever-growing backlog of cases. As of January 2021, the current backlog for MSPB cases was over 3,100.

In light of this situation, it is critical that Congress take immediate action to preserve and strengthen the MSPB in order to protect federal employees from retaliation, favoritism, and other arbitrary actions.

The Merit Systems Protection Board Empowerment Act is an important first step towards remedying this crisis. The Empowerment Act contains four key improvements:

  1. Reauthorizes the MSPB through 2026, which will help ensure that it protects federal employees for the next half decade;
  2. Allows the MSPB to conduct employee surveys, which would help to ensure that agencies are following merit system principles for the competitive civil service and potentially identify where improvements are necessary;
  3. Enables the MSPB to collect information on applicants for federal employment, when not prohibited by existing law; and
  4. Requires successful completion of whistleblower training for MSPB members, administrative judges, and other applicable employees.

The inclusion of whistleblower training is of particular import to NWC.  Congress has long recognized that whistleblowers are essential for rooting out waste, fraud and abuse and ensuring that our federal government carries out its Congressional mandates. Federal laws protecting whistleblowers are numerous, complex and constantly evolving.  To effectively protect federal whistleblowers, administrative judges, MSPB members and other Board employees need the training that is part of this bill.

You can read NWC’s full letter of support for the bill here and learn more about our work to protect federal employee whistleblowers here.

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